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Kentucky Guardsmen lend hand at local food banks

April 8, 2020 | By bencrane
Specialists Nikolas Beckum and Shawn Braden take food out to a local resident at Be Concerned food pantry in Covington, Ky., as the Guard ramped up its involvement for the COVID-19 response Apr. 7, 2020. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Benjamin Crane)

By Staff Sgt. Benjamin Crane, 133rd Mobile public Affairs Detachment

Over 70 Soldiers from around the State joined the COVID-19 response by helping at “no touch” food banks that serve donated food to hungry families Apr. 7.

For photos: CLICK HERE

They helped pack bags and boxes of food, moved pallets and loaded up cars in Lexington, Louisville, Elizabethtown, Covington and another location in Northern Kentucky, Wilder.

“We’re supporting the governors’ mission in providing local support to agencies,” said Maj. Phil Mix, 103rd Chemical Battalion’s operations officer, whose Soldiers were helping with the Free Store Food Bank in Wilder. “We are here at the local food bank making sure we are able to support Kentuckians who are in need and we want to make sure we continue to have a presence and work closely with our communities.”

Spc. Alaysia Richardson and Pfc. Eddie Wilson help fill boxes with food at God's Pantry food bank in Lexington, Ky., with their fellow Soldiers of the
149th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade in response to the COVID-19 crisis. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Pfc. Brett Hornback)

The National Guard has stepped up in many different ways around the state and this is just another way that the Guard can make a difference in their neighbor’s lives in times of crisis.

Due to the age of the food bank volunteers that are having to self-quarantine because of their high risk factors from to the virus, there is a big need to have extra hands to aid in all the work that is increasing.

"Many of our volunteers are over 60 and for obvious reasons, we've asked them to stay home,” said Michael Halligan, CEO of God's Pantry food bank in Lexington. “The National Guard's help came at the perfect time."

The Soldiers worked rigorously throughout the day while being conscious to keep their social distancing.

“We’re still working as a 103rd chemical team, we just have to be six feet apart and we’re still fighting an enemy, its just that the enemy is a billion times smaller,” added Mix.

For the Soldiers, getting to help during this time is personal and allows them to feel like they are not only helping others but those that are close to them. 

Spc. Grant Simmons, with the 149th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, helps pack boxes of food to be delivered to residents in the local community at Feeding America, Kentucky’s Heartland food bank in Elizabethtown. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Alan Royalty)

"My grandpa is a vet and he's sick right now. If he catches the virus then it would be bad,” said Spc. Grant Simmons, with the 149th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, helping at Feeding America, Kentucky’s Heartland food bank in Elizabethtown. “I think about other people's grandparents and I'm proud to be in the process of helping them, too."

The Soldiers will continue their mission at these food banks for the next several weeks to keep the supply chain going and make sure that the food banks can continue their service to the communities.

More than 28,400 National Guardsman from every state in the nation has answered the call to help in response to the COVID -19 pandemic.

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